Saturday, 21 January 2017

Only a few days left

Here I am with just 5 days to go before I head home. It feels a bit surreal to be in the wonderful sunshine and spending my days in shorts and a vest top when I know I'll be back in thick sweaters, socks and furry lined boots all too soon.

I've had the most wonderful, restful holiday. Spent my time walking, swimming, being sociable, eating, drinking and reading. Lots and lots of reading.

Today we're heading out for lunch with a friend and to spend the afternoon with more of the same. Tomorrow I go to the beach with other friends followed by braii (SA bbq) and wine and quite frankly I can't remember what I'm doing on Monday.

One of the things we have arranged to do is go to our favourite restaurant on Wednesday, my last night. It's a lovely place down by the ocean called La Kouzina, which I highly recommend if you're over here. They do a really great line in cocktails and delicious sushi. I've been twice so far and the margaritas are just wonderful, though did make a slight error last time and had 2!

We also went to a night market, which was fab. You choose the food you want from quite an array. I started with a potato cake smothered in grilled veg and followed it up with a fish taco... yum!

Will probably do one more post before I leave, so watch out for that one.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Another freak accident

I'm not superstitious but...

On Friday 13th my day started with me spilling a whole cup of very strong coffee all over the neutral coloured carpet in my bedroom. Not the best start to the day, but I did manage to clean it up and then go and buy some white vinegar and mix it with soap and water and get the stain out. It took quite a while.

Then, there I was checking on emails when I suddenly got one from the garage I'd bought my car at. My next door neighbour had taken my car there because... and get this as a completely freak accident... one of the clock faces on the clock tower of my house had fallen off and smashed through the back window of my car, denting the roof, boot and sides of my car on the way. Would you ever credit it?

Luckily no-one was hurt and my car was placed under wraps, away from snow, ice and prying eyes to await insurance people coming to get it.

Then it necessitated my getting in touch with my insurance company. Great, I thought, I can fill out the online application form and get the process started. But no... nothing could be that simple. The form demanded I put a driver on the form and it couldn't be me, as the only way to claim for this strange twist of fate was to tick a particular box on the form, but then it wouldn't accept me as the driver. Frustrating or what?

In the end I found out (thanks to Tracy) that I could use Skype as a phone if I put some money on it and phone the UK for 4p per minute. I never knew that and it's one of the most useful things I've discovered.

So then it was a long winded call to my insurance company that cost me all of 80p and now my car is going to get sorted. 

There are problems though - when is anything simple? - as the clock is officially the property of Scottish Borders Council (my neighbour did phone them and tell them what had happened) and one of it's faces is currently residing, smashed to bits, in the boot of my car. However, the insurance company will be claiming from the Council. How much do you bet that SBC don't pay out? Then of course, that means that officially the car will have 'fault' on my policy, which means that my no claims bonus is stuffed.

Oh well... nothing I can do. But it does make me aware how grateful I am to have such lovely neighbours (I always leave my car keys with them when I'm away so the car can be started now and again to keep the battery ok) who took my car off the street and got in touch with the Council on my behalf. Also the guy at the garage who emailed me pics and told me not to worry and enjoy the rest of my holiday as it was only metal and glass that was damaged. And finally, that no-one was in the car at the time or that anyone was passing... that would've been a completely different kettle of fish.

The clock stuff will get sorted, but it is interesting that the clock man had been round to repair it just a couple of weeks ago, so maybe the Council will point the finger at him? Who knows?

The clock face in happier times being fixed last summer

The same clock face now residing in the back of my car!



Thursday, 12 January 2017

65 + 1 day

Yesterday was my 65th birthday and was amazing.

We started the day at 7 am and set out for Adrenalin Addo. When we got there it was on with the gear and climbing up the hillside to the top so we could zip wire down. The views were incredible (as was the flora). I had made the decision on rising that I wouldn't take my camera. I just wanted to experience the day firsthand without having to resort to taking pics too. Tracy, however, had other thoughts and she took hers, determined that I'd have some photos to remember the day with.

Getting ready for action
About to let go!

The experience was exhilerating, but also a bit weird as I ended up going down backwards for pretty much all of it. Not seeing where I was going added another dimension to the whole experience!

After that we headed for the swing. You get put in a harness and pulled up into the sky and then they just let go. It was terrifying and that's all I'm going to say about it!

Smiling here!

I wasn't smiling here!

After a sit down and recovery from the action we were given our paddles and canoe and off we went down the Sundays River. It was so beautiful. It's been years since I canoed and I really enjoyed this part of the day. So much so, we did the course (2km) and decided to do it again.

Paddling down the Sundays River. Fab!

We sat about in the cool after our exertions and made the decision to go to Addo Elephant National Park... one of my favourite places... for the rest of the day.

And so there we were, driving round the reserve on the lookout for wild animals. It was a very hot day and was about midday when we got there, so not the best for animal spotting... you'd think. However, not long after we got there we saw a buffalo sitting in one of the mud pools, followed by some kudu, springbok, zebra and a lone ele. And then we saw a whole lot of vehicles lining up at the side of the road. We went to investigate. When it came to our turn there was a giant lion's paw just peeking out from the bush. I could see his mane moving with his breath. I've never seen a lion at Addo before and ok, I didn't actually see a whole one this time, but it was thrilling nevertheless.

We headed off after that and saw a jackal in the scrub, who was just standing watching us. I've only seen one of these at night, so it was another thrill.

Finally we came upon a wonderful scene. Many ele families all at a waterhole. Tracy turned the engine off and we sat for about an hour just watching the interactions of the large bulls, seemingly telling their herds what to do, the docile females guarding their gorgeous babies and the naughty boys off playing in the water and acting in, what can only be described, as hooligan behaviour. So wonderful to see.

One naughty boy getting out of the pool

Looking for trouble!

Daddy standing guard

C'mon in ... I dare you!

On our way to the exit we came across a lone ostrich.

All alone

and a lovely warthog and her teeny tiny baby

So cute!

And at the final waterhole before the exit we'd chosen to leave by we saw another small herd of eles, together with warthog and zebra with a this year's foal. A fitting end to our Addo experience.

At the waterhole

What a lovely foal!


From there it was back to Port Elizabeth and after a brief swim in the pool, time to get ready for dinner. We went to a sea food restaurant and I had delicious grilled king prawns and a glass of wine and then realised how exhausted we were.

We got home and I collapsed into my bed with all the wonderful memories of my 65th swimming round my head.

A truly memorable birthday!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Tales from South Africa

I got here, to Port Elizabeth, eventually. It was a long 24+ hours of flying and waiting for flights in various airports. But the sun has been shining and it's been great to be back.

It was touch and go though as about 10 minutes before I left my house for the airport I had a phone call from one of the people who check my mother's house. My mother had fallen in the night and was refusing to go to the hospital or the GP. I'm very sorry to say that I phoned my brother and let him handle it all. I needed to be away and she was ok, if a bit shaken. I heard later that she was fine and just a bit sore. Not the best start to my get away from it all trip.

So... South Africa:

On Saturday morning I had to get up at 5 to get to the Secret Sunrise event that Tracy had booked for me to attend. It was a fun hour of meditation, dancing and visualisation with approximately 99 other people. We wore headsets so no one passing could hear what was being said, which must've looked pretty odd for those passing by. And we did indeed get some very strange looks. It was fun though. Tracy (who didn't want to attend as she doesn't like crowds) took her dog, Senge, for a walk and came back to pick me up. Apparently some people passing were asking her if it was a religious thing! No it wasn't!!

Senge

After that though, it was time for me to collapse. I hadn't quite realised how much the traveling had taken out of me, so I spent the day in recovery and felt great when I got up on Sunday morning.

Sunday morning was another early start. This time it was for a walk along the Indian Ocean. It was supposed to be for a couple of hours, but Tracy's lovely friend Mel and her 2 girls, Holly and Claire came along too. Claire (who's 11) declared, after about 45 minutes, that she'd had enough. We sat for a while and then headed back. And then, sadly, Tracy was taken ill for the rest of the day, so I sat by the pool and read my book and ate good food and that was that.

Mel, Claire, Holly (with Jason) and me walking on the beach by the Indian Ocean

Yesterday Tracy was still not 100%, so I had another laid back day floating in the pool, sunning myself, going for a short walk and generally having some downtime, which was great.

Today Tracy is back to normal. It was something she ate she thinks. We have some shopping to do and getting ourselves together before tomorrow... the 'big day' when I turn 65 and go zip wiring on the longest double zip wire in Africa, canoeing and swinging at Addo Adrenalin Rush, which is Tracy's birthday present to me. For her 40th in 2015 we went skydiving, so in some ways this will small potatoes... but I'll let you know!

Monday, 2 January 2017

Some accidents are more bizarre than others

As stupid accidents go my recent one was bizarre. It involved a cough, a glass of malt whisky and 2nd degree burns in my mouth (I'll leave the actual details to your imagination). And that happened on 30th... not even New Year's Eve!

I'm still suffering and had to go to the pharmacist today to check on whether there was anything else I could be doing, but it seems I've done all the right things, but might need a course of antibiotics, so will check on that on Wednesday when the doctor's is open again. What it has meant is I've had to cancel the small party I was having tomorrow night for my Guide Dog pals as it's just a bit too uncomfortable at the moment and even with another day to go, it was easier to just call it quits today. At least everyone knows and can have a laugh at my expense.

I didn't go to the village New Year's do, not because of my mouth, but because my dear friend in London needed someone to talk to and I was very happy to provide that service.

Yesterday I spent mostly indoors feeling very sorry for myself and today I'm getting the beginnings of my packing for my up coming trip together.

Only 3 more sleeps and I'll be sunshine bound. I'm just hoping to stay as illness/accident free as possible in the next few days and hope that nothing impedes my flight.

Hopefully the next time I post will be from the sunshine of the Eastern Cape.


Saturday, 31 December 2016

The best laid plans...

Oh dear. Poor Shirley and Andy have succumbed to the dreaded lurgy, which was brought up north by their son over Christmas. He was ill the whole time while with them, but at least they had fun with their granddaughter and his girlfriend. But what that means is that our New Year plans are scuppered.

I could, of course, go over there and hold my breath for 2 days in the hope that I don't get sick before I jet off to South Africa in a mere 6 days time, but given that it seemingly takes 3 days for the bug to hit and then the sickness which lasts for well over a week, Shirley and I decided it probably would be an extremely bad idea to even contemplate it. So that's that.

I'm now thinking about joining in with the village New Year and will reveal all in due course.

Apart from all that, I've had some bad news from my dear friends in France and my very close friend in London too and it seems that 2016 is still reaching out it's awfulness and spreading it around the world to affect us all. At least there's just one more day to go and then it'll be 2017 and we can only hope that it'll be a better year.

The only thing is... I have a distinct memory I said that at the end of 2015 and probably 2014, 2013 etc etc too! But we can all live in hope and that's the way I'm playing it.

I wish you all a brilliant year ahead. Roll on 2017!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Home! Phew!

I'm really sorry to admit that I couldn't stay in London until today, so came home yesterday after having lunch with my brother's ex-wife and her boyfriend.

Christmas was as awful as I thought it would be, but there were some very funny moments and I just feel so grateful that my wonderful sons were there to help me through it all.

It started when I got a phone call from my brother to say my mother was complaining that no-one was bothering with her. Meanwhile I had been running up and down the stairs to check on her approximately every half hour from around 7 and when I said she'd been asleep every time I'd been up she said, 'I wasn't asleep, I just had my eyes closed.' Yup... that'll be right!

My mother was alternately weepy, bad tempered and kind and that went on all day. We drank fizz and ate.

She informed me she didn't like nut roast (in spite of having it every time she goes to my brother's for Xmas!) and so I needn't have bothered to make my own and could have had the Sainsburys substitution. Ah well... I enjoyed my own cooking. My mother sat at the Xmas table for all of 5 minutes before declaring she was going to go back to bed and decided she didn't want anything to eat until she did. I'm saying no more.

The boys and I played games and watched Kubo And The Two Strings, a film No. 2 Son had brought with him on his hard drive. It was amazing and I urge you to check it out.

We also went on lots of walks to just get out of the house and have some fresh air. We needed it.

On Boxing Day the boys and I went on a very long walk and then back in the afternoon. My mother was still not feeling well and I made food for her and opened a bottle of fizz. The boys and I made our own dinner and sat in my room on the bed eating as my mother had gone to bed, but then she suddenly appeared and started shouting at us about the mess her kitchen was in. Great!

After getting her back to bed, we cleared up and then relaxed by watching another one of No. 2 Son's movies, Zootopia... another great film, and drank more fizz. As we were sitting there No. 1 Son said, 'There's a mouse.' And sure enough there was. In spite of my mother wanting her house to be clean and perfect, there was still a mouse. I had to laugh. We left it to its own devices.

Yesterday, when I got up I realised I couldn't possibly stay with my mother on my own, so exchanged my ticket home from today to yesterday and it was with huge relief that I got into my house at just before 10 pm.

I should have been in before then, but just one teeny tiny problem is that I dropped my house keys in my car and couldn't find them. No matter I thought, I'll get the spares from their hiding place and get a torch and search, but as I didn't have a torch I couldn't see a thing and didn't find the key. Back to the car and after a rather long look I found them in my open pocket of my bag where they'd dropped when I was fiddling trying to get myself sorted. Gotta laugh!

And that's the end of that. Now I'm looking forward to New Year with my dear friends, Shirley and Andy, which I know will be stress-free and fun. I need it, believe me!